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11/08/2021

Old Navy plans inclusive holiday, complete with Santa bootcamp

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Old Navy is emphasizing inclusion in its seasonal campaign.

Old Navy is looking to shake up some holiday stereotypes with its seasonal campaign.

As part of its inclusive “Happy ALL-idays” campaign, the retailer is offering a training program for would-be Santas. Old Navy said it is encouraging participation from people from a broad array of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural heritages in order “to offer more representation in the role of Santa.” Diversity is a current challenge in the Santa industry, according to the company. Less than 5% of all professional Santas in the U.S. identify as people of color, while almost half of children under the age of 15 in the U.S. identify as non-white.

Registration for Old Navy’s Santa Bootcamp kicks off online on Nov. 6. The retailer partnered with Timothy Connaghan, founder of School4Santas and owner of one of the largest Santa U.S. booking agencies, to develop a 30-minute virtual training course, which will be held on Nov. 19. The program is open to anyone wants to play the role of Santa, either professionally, in their community or for their family.

As part of the program, participants will learn the fundamentals of becoming Santa, including how to respond to kids’ frequently asked Santa questions, key phrases in both sign language and Spanish and tactics for how to take the perfect photo.

Old Navy will also be casting a range of diverse Santas to appear in its flagship locations in New York City (Herald Square), San Francisco (Market Street) and Chicago (State Street) for socially-distant photos on Saturday, December 4.

Old Navy said its inclusive Santa training program was inspired by the success of its skin-tone “Jingle Jammies,” a line of pajamas for the entire family which it launched last year and which depict Santa in three different skin tones. The retailer is expanding the line this year to include additional inclusive patterns and color combination, including menorah prints and rainbow stripes.

Old Navy’s inclusive campaign will feature two television spots and a series of digital extensions starring actress and singer Keke Palmer and a diverse cast of families participating in an array of holiday traditions, from building festive “snowpeople” to breaking a piñata. Social media activations are planned November 16 through December 21 on the retailer’s Instagram account featuring select influencers.

“We have reimagined the holidays this year to celebrate the diversity of our customers through our ALL-iday campaign,” said Jamie Gersch, senior VP and CMO at Old Navy. “Inclusivity is core to our Old Navy values and is represented in the products we create, how they come to life, the people we work with and how we run our business. We can’t wait to see and share our customers' ALL-iday celebrations.”

Old Navy is donating $1 million through the Imagine Mission Fund to its Through This Way Onward program. To date, Old Navy has provided jobs and mentoring to over 10,000 young people and expects to reach its goal of providing 20,000 jobs by 2025. Ninety percent of participants self-identify as a person of color.